SAN JOSE – There wasn’t a whole lot of action in the Sharks-Blues game at SAP Center on Thursday. That’s usually a good sign for the road team, and it was in this case, too, as St. Louis claimed a convincing 4-1 win.
Still, we can find a few topics to discuss in our three takeaways…
1 – Worried about a potential rematch?
There’s a decent chance the Sharks and Blues will get to rematch their Western Conference Final series from a year ago in the first round. If San Jose surpasses the Wild and Blackhawks and gets the top seed, or the Blues move up to the first wild card position, it would make it much more likely.
Should the Sharks be worried about that, considering they were handled fairly easily by the Blues in the three-game season series?
“I’m not concerned about it,” Pete DeBoer said. “We’ll deal with that if we get them in the playoffs. I think if you go two games back we’re not very good, if you go the last 10 games against them we’re pretty good against them. I’m not worried about it.”
The Blues are surely doing something right against the Sharks. Since Jan. 1, two of San Jose's three lowest shot totals have been against St. Louis, including 23 shots on Jan. 14 (a 4-0 loss) and just 20 on Thursday, tied for a season-low.
Paul Martin said: “The last time we played them (on Jan. 14) was awhile ago, and two different teams I think from last time, but definitely we were not happy with our performance or the way we’ve been playing against them. We were off tonight, we didn’t have one of or better games, obviously. They did the job of bottling us up and not giving up a whole lot.”
2 – Burns going cold
It’s now been 11 games since Brent Burns has scored a goal, despite his registering 43 shots since Feb. 19. He still leads the Sharks with 70 points, but that’s now tied for seventh in the league, nine behind leaders Connor McDavid and Brad Marchand. He’s also just seven points ahead of Erik Karlsson for the NHL lead in scoring among defensemen, too. Is the Norris Trophy still a lock?
More concerning, though, is that Burns hasn’t been all that effective in his own end lately and is making some curious decisions with the puck and with his positioning. While Thursday’s game was a team loss – as we mention below, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun weren’t any better in terms of defensemen – it was Burns’ unforced turnover to Scottie Upshall in the neutral zone led to the Blues’ first score.
"When you pick off a pass from the best defenseman in the league," Upshall told the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "and make them pay for it, it's a big added bonus for your team, so it was a big goal for us to get us going."
As the team’s most important player now, Burns’ game will be something to monitor over the next little while.
3 – Tarasenko takes over
One of the biggest reasons that the Sharks got past the Blues in six games last season was keeping Vladimir Tarasenko under wraps. That didn’t happen on Thursday, as the Blues’ forward registered a game-high eight shots and 12 shot attempts while recording a power play goal and an empty netter.
His line, with Jaden Schwartz and Paul Stastny, was dominant while skating mostly against the Sharks’ top shutdown pair of Vlasic and Braun, as Stastny had five shots and Schwartz another two.
Blues coach Mike Yeo like his team’s game overall, as it responded from Wednesday’s loss in Anaheim.
"I thought we competed at a real high level tonight,” coach Mike Yeo told reporters. “Right from the drop of the puck, guys were paying a price for each other.”